Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

New Hope for Setback-dogged Cancer Treatment

Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Bookmark and Share
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet announce breakthrough in the study of how IGF-1 receptor-binding antibodies can help those with cancer.

Several drugs companies have ineffectively tried to produce antibodies that bind to the IGF-1 receptor on the cell surface, which has a critical part to play in the development of cancer. Scientists at Karolinska Institutet have now ascertained how these antibodies work, and can explain why only some cancer patients are helped by IGF-1 blockers during clinical tests. The researchers also present a means by which drugs of this kind could help more cancer patients.

Every cell contains thousands of tiny receptors that help it communicate with other cells. These receptors are involved in countless physiological processes, such as taste and smell perception and heart rate. A couple of dozen of these receptors form their own family - the kinase receptors (RTKs), which are implicated in cancer. The so-called IGF-1 receptor is particularly important for cancer cell survival, and as soon as this receptor encounters the right hormone (type 1 insulin-like growth factor, or IGF-1) into the cancer cell open a number of communication channels, helping it to grow, rapidly divide and protect itself against treatment.

Blocking this receptor with an antibody that binds to it and makes it inaccessible to IGF-1 has long been regarded as the key to a potential cancer therapy, the idea being that it will eventually lead to the death of the tumour cell. Several drugs companies have therefore been developing such antibodies in order to treat the most aggressive forms of cancer, and after some promising laboratory tests, have tested a number of these preparations on patients. However, the drugs have generally given disappointing results and helped only a small minority of patients (including children with Ewing's sarcoma), leading some companies to discontinue clinical trials focusing on the IGF-1 receptor.

The Karolinska Institutet team has now systematically analysed the different IGF-1-related triggered communication channels within a cancer cell. Their results show that the original idea is correct and that such antibody treatment does actually stop the channels from opening, with one very important exception: the MEK channel was actually powerfully stimulated by the treatment - the antibodies being as effective in this as the hormone itself - and actively helped the cancer cells to survive.

"This gives us a credible explanation why the antibody trials for the IGF-1 receptor weren't as effective as had been hoped," says principal investigator Dr Leonard Girnita, docent of pathology at Karolinska Institutet s Department of Oncology-Pathology. "So it's too early to give up on the idea of treating cancer like this   it's still a very good way of attacking the cancer, provided we can close this final communication channel. If we can do this, antibodies for the IGF-1 receptor are likely to form an effective treatment not only for Ewing's sarcoma in children but many other cancers as well."

Drugs that are used to close this channel in other forms of treatments are already available. The researchers believe that a combination therapy using such MEK inhibitors with IGF-1 blockers can be the key to releasing the potential of this therapy model.

"We've seen in the laboratory that cell lines treated in this way no longer manage to divide," says Dr Girnita. "When they die of old age there is no regrowth, so we ve seen in the laboratory environment how cancer cells die out of their own accord."

The study was financed with grants from the Swedish Cancer Society, the Swedish Research Council, the Children's Cancer Foundation, the Crown Princess Margareta Fund for the Visually Impaired, the Welander/Finsen foundations, the King Gustaf V Jubilee Fund, Vinnova (The Swedish governmental agency for innovation systems), the Cancer Research Funds of Radiumhemmet, Stockholm County Council and Karolinska Institutet.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Complex Grammar of the Genomic Language
A new study from Karolinska Institutet shows that the ‘grammar’ of the human genetic code is more complex than that of even the most intricately constructed spoken languages in the world.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
The 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has decided to award the Nobel Prize jointly to John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent.
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Possible New Therapy for the Treatment of a Common Blood Cancer
Research from Karolinska Institutet shows that sorafenib, a drug used for advanced cancer of the kidneys and liver, could also be effective against multiple myeloma.
Friday, September 07, 2012
Identical Twins Not as Identical as Believed
The finding published by American, Swedish, and Dutch scientists may be of great significance for research on hereditary diseases and for the development of new diagnostic methods.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Scientists Find new Agent to Fight Genetic Disorders - Zorro-Locked Nucleic Acid
A new agent developed by Karolinska Institute researchers, called Zorro-LNA, has the potential to stop genetic disorders in their tracks.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Scientific News
New Tech Vastly Improves CRISPR/Cas9 Accuracy
A new CRISPR/Cas9 technology developed by scientists at UMass Medical School is precise enough to surgically edit DNA at nearly any genomic location, while avoiding potentially harmful off-target changes typically seen in standard CRISPR gene editing techniques.
New Class of RNA Tumor Suppressors Identified
Two short, “housekeeping” RNA molecules block cancer growth by binding to an important cancer-associated protein called KRAS. More than a quarter of all human cancers are missing these RNAs.
Biologists Induce Flatworms to Grow Heads and Brains of Other Species
Findings shed light on role of a new kind of epigenetic signaling in evolution, could yield clues for understanding birth defects and regeneration.
Turning up the Tap on Microbes Leads to Better Protein Patenting
Mining millions of proteins could become faster and easier with a new technique that may also transform the enzyme-catalyst industry, according to University of California, Davis, researchers.
Mathematical Model Forecasts the Path of Breast Cancer
Chances of survival depend on which organs breast cancer tumors colonize first.
Exploring the Causes of Cancer
Queen's research to understand the regulation of a cell surface protein involved in cancer.
Ancient Viral Molecules Essential for Human Development
Genetic material from ancient viral infections is critical to human development, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Tardigrade's Are DNA Master Thieves
Tardigrades, nearly microscopic animals that can survive the harshest of environments, including outer space, hold the record for the animal that has the most foreign DNA.
The Secret Behind the Power of Bacterial Sex
Migration between different communities of bacteria is the key to the type of gene transfer that can lead to the spread of traits such as antibiotic resistance, according to researchers at Oxford University.
Farming’s in Their DNA
Ancient genomes reveal natural selection in action.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos